- Leaders who listen are more likely to be told what’s really happening in their organisations – which is extremely valuable if you want to grow
- Successful leaders ask experts for their opinions – they don’t just bark orders
- Leaders who care about their employees earn more loyalty and see lower staff churn.
Does your influence as a leader come from your position or from the respect that you have earned in your decisions and interactions with your team?
Former General Electric CEO, Jack Welch believed that self-confidence is a critical trait to becoming a successful leader. But, as Ron Ashkenas, co-author of the Harvard Business Review Leader’s Handbook points out, it’s important to recognise that self-confidence works in two directions.
“The subordinate needs enough self-confidence to speak up, and the boss needs enough self-confidence to listen. When either lacks this ability, communication is constrained.”
The big idea: Be a team member, not a boss
While you cannot force your team members to be bold enough to freely voice their views, you can ensure you’re creating the correct environment for them to do so. “Strong leaders are people who listen more than they talk,” says Liz Ryan, author of Reinvention Roadmap: Break the Rules to Get the Job You Want and Career You Deserve.
“They ask the experts on the ground – meaning the people who work alongside them as teammates – what to do when there’s a question to be answered or a problem to be solved. They don’t bark out orders.”
What’s in it for you: Earn trust and mine valuable information
When you’re seen as approachable and prepared to listen, explains Global Gurus Top 30 Leadership Expert, Speaker and Executive Coach, Gordon Tredgold, people will be more inclined to share valuable information. This gives you the opportunity to address issues before they become a major problem.
Christian Valiulis, Chief Revenue Officer at APS, has seen an increase in loyal employees committed to the mission of the team and organisation by “caring enough about my team to take the time to understand how they communicate.”
Make it happen
When people respect you only because of your authority, they will give you the minimum effort, according to CEO of Red Hat, Jim Whitehurst. Here are 3 ways he advises for you to earn respect while inspiring your team:
- Be passionate about the business’s purpose. People generally want to follow passionate people. If you show your team you care about what you’re doing and constantly drive interest in the bigger picture, they will be drawn to you.
- Demonstrate confidence. Leadership doesn’t always inspire confidence – and your team can tell when you’re unsure. The same confidence you convey to your own boss is vital when you interact with your team.
- Engage your people. Just like respect, trust is earned. Meetings aren’t your chance to give orders and return to your office. Share ideas, solutions and weaknesses. Don’t hold your cards too close to your chest – get your team to work with you.